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Salt Lake man charged with murder sent threats to victim's family, police say

Jesse Joel Bruce was arrested Friday for investigation of two counts of retaliation against a witness, victim, or informant after sending threatening messages to the family of a man he is charged with killing.

Jesse Joel Bruce was arrested Friday for investigation of two counts of retaliation against a witness, victim, or informant after sending threatening messages to the family of a man he is charged with killing. (Salt Lake County Jail)



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake man charged with stabbing his friend and roommate to death in 2019 was arrested Friday and accused of sending threatening messages to the victim's family.

Jesse Joel Bruce, 43, is charged with murder, a first-degree felony, in the death of Cory Haney, 40. Police responded to a report of a fight at 797 E. Northcliffe Drive (600 North) on March 21, 2019, and reported finding Bruce on the floor with a knife next to him. Haney was found dead in another hallway with multiple stab wounds to his head and neck.

Bruce, who has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge, remained in the Salt Lake County Jail until a judge agreed to reduce his bail from $1 million to $250,000 on June 29, 2020. The judge said he needed to balance public safety with Bruce's right to a speedy trial. At that time, no criminal trials were being held or scheduled because of the pandemic. Bruce posted bail shortly afterward and was ordered to wear an ankle monitor and have no contact with the victim's family as conditions of his release. The judge denied a request from prosecutors for home confinement, court records indicate.

But Bruce was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail on Friday for investigation of two counts of retaliation against a witness, victim or informant after allegedly sending electronic messages to Haney's mother and brother.

"Jesse threatened the victim's mother by saying he had documented evidence that the victim was raping women. Jesse said he would release the evidence if they did not 'stop your endless assault against me,'" a police booking affidavit states.

"How much mud do you want released against your precious family?" one of the messages said, according to police.

"You keep attacking me and my family in public, you know not the truth or what happened. Your guilt is driving you," another message sent to the victim's mother said, according to the affidavit. The woman told police she was terrified after receiving the messages.

Haney's mother, Kay Lynn Stafford, told KSL in April that she lost some faith in the system when Bruce was allowed to leave jail.

"I couldn't believe that he would even be allowed to get out on bail with the brutal murder and the brutal things he had done to my son," Stafford said. "Cory didn't get a time out, he didn't have a chance to just take a break, so why does the criminal get to take a break?"

Judge Richard Mckelvie granted a motion to revoke Bruce's bail on Friday after his latest arrest.

Right after Haney was killed in 2019 and while Bruce being treated for a leg injury at the hospital, Bruce allegedly said that he wanted to talk to someone.

"I just killed someone. I killed my best friend for 25 years," he said, according to charging documents.

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